A well-placed pro-Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) source has told MHProNews on 4.29.2020 about the multiyear “new class of homes” more recently rebranded as “CrossModTM homes” effort, saying that “I see no traction in the program.”
An independent that is a believer in the project on that same date admitted to MHProNews that they have not closed a single deal but is hopeful about the future. That same source said “I don’t think cross mod will get traction in the regular retailer model. I think the extra work that it takes and the client that is attracted to this product will be more comfortable with a sales model more similar to what we are doing. It is going to take a developer to sell them, not a retailer,” with typos in that comment from the original message.
A third source after citing the perspective of a higher volume manufactured home retailer told MHProNews that: “this isn’t/won’t be a big deal maybe for the reasons you just cited – no sales.” That “no sales” was a reference to what a different party that said they have had no sales, but in fairness there have been a few “CrossModTM homes” sold nationally.
Per the November 2019 FHFA listening session in St. Louis, only ten – 10 – ‘new class of manufactured homes’ had closed in all of 2018 and to that point year-to-date in 2019.
That ‘new class’ of HUD Code manufactured homes – also known by the names MHAdvantage® by Fannie Mae, ChoiceHome℠ by Freddie Mac and more recently dubbed “CrossModTM homes” by the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and their big boy backers such as Clayton Homes – is going nowhere fast. That’s according to an array of informants inside manufactured housing and from informed sources outside of the industry too.
MHProNews asked Mark Weiss, J.D, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) about the thorny issue. Weiss emailed the following statement.
“The so-called “CrossModTM” gambit remains what it always has been – an excuse for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to divert “Duty to Serve” (DTS) support from mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured homes and instead channel that support to much more costly homes produced by the industry’s largest corporate conglomerates. This serves the interests of the conglomerates by leveraging their larger production capacity and lower per capita overhead to produce homes that are not economically viable for their smaller competitors. At the same time it serves the interests of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by allowing them to feign compliance with DTS while continuing to avoid the vast bulk of the mainstream manufactured housing market that they have studiously sought to sidestep for decades.
This entire concept has been flawed from its very inception which – in actuality – was nearly twenty years ago. Congress, with DTS, wanted the GSEs to provide financing support for mainstream affordable manufactured homes, not an entirely new and untested, more costly type of home.
It’s time to end this distraction and diversion from DTS, and get DTS – and the GSEs – into the mainstream manufactured housing finance market in market-significant numbers, as long urged and supported by MHARR.”
MHI member manufactured home lenders previously asked about the topic have expressed dismay. Years of effort and planning have produced a reportedly lame outcome. Several MHI member lenders have been asked, none of those that responded to MHProNews’ inquiries had anything exciting to report. Not one.
But if someone was reading only MHI emails or pro-MHI publications or bloggers, they might get an entirely different – and arguably false – impression.
For example. Had MHI’s spring Congress and Expo not been cancelled by COVID19 restrictions, MHI had plans to make the program a highlight.
Per an MHI email dated March 10, 2020 was the following.
CrossMod™ homes are visually indistinguishable from site-built homes, with higher roof pitches, porches, permanent foundations, and garages. These homes qualify for the GSEs’ financing programs, which offer conventional financing options for HUD Code homes that have features similar to site-built homes. Under both of the GSEs’ programs, appraisers may use site-built homes as comparables when valuating qualifying homes. Join a panel discussion about the CrossMod™ home product and appraisal logistics surrounding these homes and financing programs.”
MHI has produced literature and videos to promote the effort. Their corporate backers of the plan have produced collateral and videos too. Despite the hype on MHI’s website homepage, the videos have scant views compared to say the 7.8 million views achieved by John Oliver’s viral and misnamed “Mobile Homes” video.
Case in point? At 3:26 PM ET on 4.29.2020 this video below by Clayton Homes had only 2,350 views.
MHProNews Added Information, Analysis and Commentary
Clayton’s comments on their own promotional video say, “We have joined forces with industry partners to develop a new class of manufactured homes, called CrossMod™, as a reflection of our commitment to elevate the industry by bringing quality and innovation to even more home buyers.”
But that claim – objective observed – is pure double-talk – sheer nonsense, why? Because if you wanted to “elevate the industry” then you would do so by supporting all HUD Code manufactured homes, not just a special and untested subgroup. After all, HUD Code manufactured home builders for roughly 2 decades have been producing all drywall, higher roof pitches, upgraded cabinetry models which on numbers of occasions have had a site-built garage or carport added to them. Those models just didn’t have a separate name for those upgraded HUD Code homes.
Companies like Franklin Homes, Commodore, Sunshine, Deer Valley, KABCO, Jacobsen and Hi-Tech Housing or other industry producers which include MHI and MHARR member firms – have for years built homes that often had such features.
Tom Hardiman of the Modular Home Builders Association, in blasting “CrossMod™,” arguably made the right argument. He said how would manufactured home owners react once they understood that MHI turned its back on its own products?
Isn’t what Hardiman said what has occurred with the general public? While MHI claimed momentum on their now clearly failed “new class of homes” scheme, MHLivingNews – referring to research by third-party Zillow – made it plain that public interest in mainstream manufactured housing declined during the same timeframe that MHI arguably misleading bragged about their marketing impact and overall “momentum.”
That’s been the clear logic from the outset when the ‘new class’ scheme was announced. That’s why it was inevitable that the outcome would be terrible. The solution? It is as simple as Hardiman said.
The MHBA appears for now to be content with letting MHI hang itself. The problem is, that in so doing, they have derailed mainstream HUD Code production growth too.
Where is the Beef?
Another MHI-only member source that is a producer previously lamented to MHProNews in frustration that there was no similar effort for mainstream manufactured homes, “What are we, chopped liver?” That was December 2018. That source laid out some of the reasons to question or oppose the program.
Almost a year before, on February 21st, 2018, MHProNews raised concerns that the program would prove to be a “Trojan Horse” for manufactured housing.
An MHI-affiliated state association executive told MHProNews that the research that MHI had performed had little meaning, because – that source said – such paid research routinely just fed back what those paying for the research wanted to hear. Meanwhile, Ducker researcher commanded steep fees and MHI spent large sums in other ways on this failed initiative.
These and other concerns that mitigated against the plan had numerous voices cautioning against it, but those voices inside MHI were ignored, marginalized or were unwilling to speak up publicly for fear of retaliation – but they, MHARR, MHLivingNews and MHProNews have arguably been validated.
But the utter failure of the effort, given years of claimed research, so-called “focus group” results and more have belied MHI’s own claims.
Instead, Danny Ghorbani, founding MHARR President and CEO ripped the program and the handling of DTS in an in-depth Q&A that is linked below.
Let’s be blunt. MHProNews could go on and on ripping this program based upon facts and evidence, but the Manufactured Housing Institute led “CrossModTM homes” scheme has already ripped itself. Nor can the claim be reasonably made that this failure is somehow COVID19 related, because these problems long pre-date the impact of the Wuhan Virus on MHVille, as has been amply demonstrated above.
It is time for MHI, Clayton Homes and their allied big boy backers to put up or shut up on “CrossModTM homes.” If they have evidence that contradicts these points, let’s see it.
If not, MHProNews calls for common sense to be used, stop using that name altogether and to start promoting the good laws that MHI once worked with MHARR to get enacted. It made no sense to pass the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 and then not push for the full and proper implementation of that legislation, which MHI did pre-the Berkshire era.
It makes no sense for MHI to claim to support DTS and then only push for the implementation of that for this new class of homes plus loans on communities that help their larger National Community Council (NCC) members. DTS was meant to provide competitive lower-cost financing for all HUD Code manufactured homes, not just some of them.
It is time for MHI, Clayton Homes and their ‘big boy’ allies to fly straight instead of painting the skies with razzle dazzle that reveals crooked lines.
HUD Code manufactured housing declined in 2019 vs. 2018, that was never the bargain made by MHI with the industry. The excuses that were given for that were and remain absurd during an affordable housing crisis.
Sources that are MHI members have told MHProNews that they expect a 20 to 30 percent shipment decline in March 2020, and that could continue through much of the reset of this year.
If so, that would only be true due to a lack of proper vision and focus. A university researcher recently told MHProNews that they think that the industry could – in theory – grow faster after COVID19 than before. But that will only occur with the right leadership, which MHI, Clayton Homes, et al have clearly not exhibited.
Skyline Champion (SKY) and Cavco Industries (CVCO) have made it plain that their focus has been and continues to be “M&A” – “Mergers and Acquisitions” which is another way of saying consolidation. The logical focus should be for serious and sustained industry growth.
The “leadership” of “MHI 2.0” is a purportedly bad as that during the Richard “Dick” Jennison era. Jennison tried to lamely explain on camera that the industry needed slow growth.
Within months of that stunning statement, Jennison – reportedly under pressure – reversed course and said that the industry could achieve 500,000 new HUD Code manufactured home sales. While that claim of potential was and remains arguably accurate due to the affordable housing crisis, under MHI ‘leadership’ – the industry is about as far off from hitting that goal as when Jennison said that on stage and on camera.
Who does slow or negative growth benefit? Consolidators. Why? Because they can sustain the costs and losses during that time. This has arguably been a conspiracy by a few to harm independent producers of HUD Code manufactured homes that has been hiding in plain sight. That has cost retailers, producers and those in the community sector who sold properties at a discounted valuation due to sales that should have been made but where not.
Billions and billions of dollars annually in sales that could have been made but where not, due to this always dubious and now demonstrably proven failure trademarked by MHI as “CrossModTM homes.”
MHI needs to be investigated by an independent outside agency for possible antitrust violations. The same should occur with the big boy brands that pushed this scheme despite what common sense and evidence suggested.
Why hasn’t manufactured housing been properly understood? It is MHI that claims to represent all segments of the industry, and the evidence should be crystal clear. They have failed on “CrossModTM homes” just as they failed to pass the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act. Call them incompetent. Call them the Quislings of manufactured housing. Call them whatever you like, but they have not earned trust or confidence, based on the overwhelming evidence have they?
Who has benefited from this travesty? A few consolidators, based upon their own admissions.
The evidence is clear. What is there response or defense? Or is pro-MHI backer Andy Gedo the only one with the chutzpah to stand up and even try to defend those so-called leaders?
The links below the byline are relevant to this topic. The second one has been one of the most read articles in MHVille for over half-a-year.
That’s a wrap on this report, but stay tuned for more from your #1 source for the most-read manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
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The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.